9 January 2010
Aalto aims to become one of the world's top universities
Aalto University is a new multidisciplinary science and art community in the fields of science, economics, and art and design. The new university is founded on Finnish strengths, and its goal is to develop as a unique entity to become one of the world's top universities. The cornerstones of Aalto University are its strengths in education and research – with cross-scientific opportunities.
Aalto University is created through a merger between the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology. The official inauguration of University took place in Finland on 8 January 2010.
The speakers at the opening included the President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, Aalto President Tuula Teeri and President of Aalto University Student Union Jussi Valtonen.
Answering questions and opportunitiesThe humane general task of the Aalto University is to be involved in answering questions and opportunities, as – in the words of Alvar Aalto – “the technical culture” will have an increasingly wide impact on all civilizations, societies and natural environments, said Vanhanen in his speech.
“The special task of the University is to contribute to helping Finland in this humane development as well as to succeed both internally and externally.”
Finnish companies operating on the global market are compelled to acquire knowledge and expertise from the best places in the world.
“Our universities, therefore, must be able to answer the needs of global companies – if they cannot do so, then many companies’ research activities will be transferred away from Finland,” Vanhanen stressed.
The Prime Minister expressed his wish that education provided by Aalto University could be marketed to students outside the EU without a delay, thus ensuring, with the help of student grants, better prospects for the students in developing countries also in the future.
Exemplary in social responsibility
|The International Research Assessment Exercise carried out in 2009 praised Aalto University as exemplary in social responsibility. The university was described a committed partner in collaborations based on real-life problems, challenges and opportunities.
“We will work to maintain and strengthen our societal impact by building long-lasting, strategic partnerships. We will also create new forms of interaction with the world of industry and commerce and with public bodies in Finland and internationally,” Aalto President Tuula Teeri promised.
Tenure track career path for the University
Aalto University has been granted more freedom, but also given the responsibility to build a world class university in Finland.“We will base our efforts on the strengths and values characteristic to Finland and the Finnish people – diligence and perseverance – the so called Finnish SISU,” Teeri said.
One of the most significant single investments in Aalto University will be tenure track, a career path system based on international models.
“Starting this year, we will be opening 20-40 new tenure track positions annually. The adoption of the tenure track model will guarantee continuous renewal, and also internationalization of the university,” Teeri pointed out.
The career track at Aalto University does not end at a permanent professorship but a promotion to a distinguished professor category, the Aalto Professor, is also possible.
This is a position awarded to faculty that has achieved an internationally leading position in their field. The first nomination in this category has been awarded to Professor Risto Nieminen from the Department of Applied Physics at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology.
Professor Nieminen is specializing in computational condensed-matter and materials physics, including nanosciences and nanotechnology, Teeri said.
Inauguration in the Second Life
The inauguration of Aalto University was also celebrated in the Aalto Island built in the Second Life virtual world where the guests can follow the events in Finlandia Hall as a direct transmission and participate in discussions.
In the speech in Second Life, President Teeri assured the students that Aalto University will invest in the quality of teaching and learning. She promised that the number of qualified teachers will be increased and the quality of student counselling improved.
“We want to provide our students with an inspiring, ambitious and interactive learning environment where they are acknowledged as members of the academic community. We hope that this will motivate the students to work diligently and to learn eagerly,” Teeri said.
Strength from differences
The new President of Aalto University Student Union, Jussi Valtonen, urged the students and the teachers to challenge each other in pursuing learning-centered culture and to seize cross-scientific opportunities. Valtonen encouraged those in Aalto to find solutions in work parties with partners, companies and society.
“Aalto gets its strength from being different: Let's value the expertise of each one of us. We need to support each other in our different ambitions and dreams. Let's make Aalto the Google of the university world, a place to where more and more people head to realize their passion,” Valtonen exhorted.
Aalto University in Brief:In the new university, there are 20 000 basic degree and graduate students as well as a staff of 4300 of which 300 are professors.
The total budget for 2008 was close to EUR320 million. In 2008, a total of 2 200 Master's Degrees and 175 Doctorates were completed in the three universities. The number of alumni totals 75 000.
Sources and more information:
Aalto Island SLurl
The speeches at the opening ceremony
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